CNN Caption: “Melting ice is visible near Greenland’s Ilulissat glacier, one of the areas seeing the effects of global warming in the Arctic.”
University of Bremen physicists reported Saturday that Arctic sea ice reached its lowest extent measured since satellite observations began three decades ago, as we reported yesterday. Climate Progress had previously reported on the record low volume, too (see “The Arctic death spiral continues“).
So why another story? Well, first, it’s always worth celebrating a major US media outlet actually ascribing something happening now to global warming without any caveats. So kudos to CNN, even if it is just their news blog.
Second, kudos to University of Bremen physicists for clearly explaining in their report — “Arctic sea ice extent small as never before” (love that translation) — why this is happening and what it means:
Alerting message from the Arctic: The extent the the Arctic sea ice has reached on Sep. 8 with 4.240 million km2 a new historic minimum…. It seems to be clear that this is a further consequence of the man-made global warming with global consequences. Directly, the livehood of small animals, algae, fishes and mammals like polar bears and seals is more and more reduced.
This is indeed a message from the Arctic. But is anyone paying attention?
Climatologists and cryo-scientists are. And they are stunned. Wales Online reported last week that Dr. Alun Hubbard at Aberystwyth University’s Centre for Glaciology came back from the Petermann Glacier in north-west Greenland documenting stunning changes in just the past two years:
“Although I knew what to expect in terms of ice loss from satellite imagery, I was still completely unprepared for the gob-smacking scale of the break-up, which rendered me speechless. It was just incredible to see. This glacier is huge, 20km across, 1,000m high. It’s like looking into the Grand Canyon full of ice and coming back two years later to find it’s full of water.”
Here are the gob-smacking before and after photos:
MSNBC added to the story:
“The break-off last year is bigger than anything seen for at least 150 years,” Hubbard said.
“This region (northern Greenland) is experiencing temperatures which are abnormally warm … I think the far northwest of Greenland is seeing a kind of new regime of climate,” he added.
The Humbolt Glacier, the widest in the northern hemisphere, is also retreating, Hubbard said. He said he was not a climate scientist, but said the pattern of ice melting in the area was “a definite consequence of climate change and global warming.”
Writing in the Annals of Glaciology journal, published on Aug. 22, the researchers said Greenland’s glaciers had collectively lost 592.6 square miles of ice between 2000 and 2010.
The August 2010 “calving” event saw the creation of an ice island of 112 square miles, causing the Petermann Glacier to retreat by about 8 miles.
And for those who say this is all just natural variation, the German physicists explain what’s really going on:
Moreover, the sea ice retreat can no more be explained with the natural variability from one year to the next, caused e.g. by weather influence. Climate models show rather, that the reduction is related to the man-made global warming which, due to the ice albedo effect, is particular pronounced in the Arctic: an ice area melted by a small temperature increase will then as open water have a much darker surface, absorb more solar radiation as before which causes an additional heating.
The time to act was a long time ago, but now is better than continuing to listen to the disinformers.